Since You Went Away/While You Were Sleeping – catching up on Sheldon Harnick Memorial and Museum of Broadway (long)
Last Edit: PlayWiz 02:11 pm EST 11/20/23
Posted by: PlayWiz 01:58 pm EST 11/20/23

Welcome back, and thanks to Dan for all his hard work!

So I went to the Sheldon Harnick Memorial which was held at the Music Box Theater. I saw some very lovely performances; my memory now might overlook some, but here are what I recall: Elena Shaddow singing quite beautifully “When Did I Fall in Love” from “Fiorello!”; a young lady, whose name I didn’t catch, filling in at short notice for Emily Skinner and doing the wonderful “Shape of Things” from “The Littlest Revue”; Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht performing “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof” with Hecht making a mistake repeating lyrics in another section (and quite humorously acknowledging it); also from “Fiddler”, Jason Danieley singing “Now I Have Everything” and Alexandra Silber doing a lovely job singing “Far From the Home I Love”; the great John Kander performing a song at the piano which had to do with the atomic bomb that Harnick wrote for what I believe was a revue; Sheldon Yellen humorously reading a tribute to Harnick, Karen Ziemba performing "Gorgeous" from "The Apple Tree"; Robert Cucciolo singing quite movingly “In My Own Lifetime” from “The Rothschilds” and Judy Kuhn, recreating her very fine performance as Amalia in the first Broadway revival of “She Loves Me” singing “Ice Cream”. Harnick’s daughter read a memorial speech, and there were lots of shoutouts to Harnick’s widow Margie in the audience. If I overlooked anyone, my apologies – anyone else who saw this can fill in any blanks. The memorial left no doubt that Sheldon Harnick was one of the greats in his craft (Sondheim was quoted by someone as saying that Harnick was his favorite) and that on a personal level, he was a wonderful and beloved man.

I also went to the Museum of Broadway on what was a special promotion (for a buck!) on what I believe was their 1st anniversary. It was much better than I thought it would be – lots of photos, costumes (Bernadette Peters’ red “Hello, Dolly! dress, for example), props and exhibits starting with the earliest days of documented theater in New York, leading up to more in-depth surveys of theater in the late 1800s, early 1900s (i.e. some Ziegfeld Follies costumes) and then further into the 20th century up to contemporary offerings still playing on Broadway. One exhibit especially fascinating was a 360 degree model of “Wicked” at the Gershwin that you could walk around which basically gives you an idea of what is going on technically backstage, on-stage, and on the sides of the theater (i.e. the actress playing Elphaba being painted green in one of the dressing rooms).

Of course, in such a survey of theater, certain shows and musicals which are favorites of the curator get more prominence while others are ignored (no mention of “Nine”, one of the most incredible productions at the exhibit dealing with shows highlighting that time frame, for example). Still, it was great to see photos of original posters of shows to see how they were marketed to the public back then as representations of the shows as well as to see pictures of the performers. I even came upon a photo of a late friend/actor and improv teacher -- of him amongst others in robes in a press photo of “Oh! Calcutta!” which I know he would be rather tickled to see him ending up in a museum from that show!

I spent about 2 hours in the museum and felt kind of rushed, as I hadn’t realized it closed early on Wednesday. I would have stayed longer, as there were many exhibits I had to quickly take in as I wasn’t sure how much more of the museum there was to see. There’s quite a bit on 3 floors. There were exhibits dealing with all aspects of getting a show on – dealing with the roles of producers, composers and lyricists, libretto writers and playwrights, stage managers, public relations and marketing, etc. Under normal circumstances I’d say the prices can be pretty high for this museum, but I think if you can get an admission for around $20-30 or so, it would be worth it. I’d go again, as there really was quite a lot to see that I hadn't time enough to read. There are also some very nicely decorated corridors with mirrors and such which I thought could be used in the future more judiciously to feature more artifacts -- and to go into more detail for example for shows that were left out at present.
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Previous: re: Bedlam’s ARCADIA and/or Irish Rep’s TRANSLATIONS, any comments? - Ann 02:12 pm EST 11/20/23
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